tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 6, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
nbc "nightly news" is next and local news following that. turning point in egypt. after 13 days of protests, new concessions at a remarkable meeting of old political enemies, but is it enough or is it just for show? plus, a day in the life of a protester forcing change. super mad. super bowl ticketholders denied their seats and turned away at the gate. what's going on? foul play? could a major league empire come crashing down under the weight of a notorious ponzi scheme? and remembering reagan. the former first lady leads a tribute on the president's 100th the former first lady leads a tribute on the president's 100th birthday.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening from amman, jordan. the pro-democracy movement in neighboring egypt took a turn today. as die hard anti-mubarak activists held their ground refusing to negotiate in tahrir square, the formerly banned muslim brotherhood were at the bargaining table, winning sweeping concessions from the embattled government on everything from freedom of the press to a promise to end martial law. most telling, however, that was those deals were being agreed to by egypt's new vice president, not president hosni mubarak who it appears is slowly being squeezed out of the picture and out of egypt's future. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel remains on the ground for us in cairo and has today's new developments for us. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. the government today did offer
major political concessions but the protestors in tahrir square are digging in and want more, but the longer this goes on, they risk alienating many egyptians who want both political reform and stability. >> reporter: for the first time in two weeks, what's happening outside tahrir square may be determining egypt's future. cars are back out. the city is cleaning up. cairo, which has looked like a war zone, is going back to work. a sense of normal life is now returning to cairo. people are coming out on the streets, opening their shops, wondering if this conflict may have turned a corner. banks opened today. government salaries delayed more than a week have been paid. the money transferred by direct deposit to atm machines. we want to return to stability, said this man. these people supported the uprising for more democracy, but now that the government is promising to do it they believe the demonstrations in tahrir should stop.
we have achieved many reforms, stability and work are more important now, he said. the government today promised to make fundamental changes to allow more democracy. the vice president, omar suleiman, met with opposition groups, including the muslim brotherhood, which wants islamic law. it's an astonishing photo op. the muslim brotherhood has been banned for decades. suleiman, head of the intelligence service, has tracked the brotherhood down. now, they are discussing egypt's political future together. after the meeting, egypt announced it would go further, by soon lifting martial law in play since anwar sadat was assassinated in 1981, allowing more presidential candidates to run in future elections and greater freedom of the press. it is almost everything the opposition has asked for, but is it real? this man has worked for
democracy in egypt for years. tonight, he is skeptical. >> all this talk about not not running again and all the reform, et cetera, is lies. and if those kids leave, mubarak is going to turn back on all the promises he made. >> reporter: and there is still the open question of tahrir square where thousands of protesters remain camped out. today, they held prayers for the 12 or more people killed in the violence. the protesters still draw a huge crowd and say they will only stop if mubarak resigns and leaves the country. >> we have nothing soiled. he can change his mind tomorrow. >> whatever he offers, no one will accept. i don't know why they are wasting their time. >> reporter: the protesters worry if they leave the square, the government will just renege on its promises. it's now a question of trust. mubarak seems to be giving in to all the opposition's demands except one, his legacy. but protesters say it's a ploy by the 82-year-old survivor to
clear the square and wait out this political storm. lester, a lot now depends on numbers. if the protesters get smaller and start to fade away, then this is probably the best offer they are going to get from the government. if the protests, however, stay large or even get bigger, then there is a chance they could force president mubarak to step down early, although it seems unlikely he would actually leave the country. lester? >> richard engel in cairo tonight, thanks. as we just saw, tahrir square remains the physical center of the reform movement, but tonight, the feeling there has changed as the government, at least to some extent, has listened to the protesters. nbc's ron allen spent the day there for us. >> reporter: everyone arriving at tahrir square gets a hero's welcome. for nearly two weeks, the epicenter of an unprecedented protest that at times has become a battlefield.
and now, with the military allowing just about anyone to join in, the square has become the destination in cairo for what often looks and feels like a festival. ♪ when you walk inside, it is almost like another world, much different from the streets outside, and that's what the protesters say they are trying to create, a world in here that is full of optimism and hope. >> it could take ages that is true, but we are very optimistic but that is the whole thing, the spirit of the revolution. >> reporter: tarik shalabe, a 26-year-old social media consultant belongs to the generation that started much of this now with his mom and a few friends in a tent called freedom motel, he is determined to see it through. >> their trick is just to play the waiting game and hope people who aren't well off lose momentum but that is obviously not going to work because there's a lot of people who hate this guy. >> reporter: neighborhood is expanding, the tents multiplying. you can stay in touch with the world beyond by charging your
phone with wires rigged from a light pole. vendors are everywhere. it is the best place for business. can't find something? there's a lost and found. it's a big celebration but there's also some measure of caution. on the edge of the square, you will find piles of rock. people are ready, just in case there's another big fight. medics treat the wounded. we were out on the front lines, just a few of us, mohammed al masri said, recalling the day when he got hit when the horses raced through the squarp. they keep their defenses up, ever on guard against the military trying to drive them out. as evening fell, the family was still out there, tarik planning to spend yet another night, and then join the relentless throngs who say they will keep up the fight here until liberation square lives up to its name. ron allen, nbc news, cairo.
>> and i'm joined mere in amman now by our veteran middle east correspondent, martin fletcher. martin, thanks for being here. you have got protesters who are demanding change. they are not negotiating much the muslim brotherhood, remarkably, sitting down with the government. a lot of people in egypt and the west view this as a religious fundamentalist movement. is it? >> it absolutely is, it is what they say they are. since they were founded in 1929, the muslim brotherhood have been aiming for one thing, an islamic state. their main slogan is the future is islam, islam is the future that's what they want that's what the brotherhood wants. the question of course is in the government -- if during the talks, their role will depend on how they do in the elections that has to be free and fair. >> what kind of government would it look like? this is not an islamic revolution, to say. >> depends on the elections, you are right. the guessing is that the islamic -- muslim brotherhood in elections would get about 25% of the vote and that would give them a strong minority role but there could be surprises, bad
surprises. >> you have got governments like where we are here in jordan, syria and other parts of middle east nervously watching all this, they have populations becoming restless with the pace of reforms, we are watching an egypt. now perhaps a chance for a peaceful transition after the violence. would that lead to a big sigh of relief in places like where we are standing right now? >> absolutely. of course, a long way to go before you fined out whether there is a peaceful transition, certainly, all the countries in the region affected, particularly yemen, here in jordan, algeria, looking very closely what happens in egypt. egypt traditionally the largest country in the arab world, the leader of the arab world. what happens in egypt will have a very, very loud echo the rest of the region. >> martin fletcher, good talk to you, thanks so much. president obama is weighing in tonight on events in egypt. nbc's mike viqueira has the latest from the white house for us. mike? >> reporter: good evening, lester it has become something of a tradition for the network airing the super bowl to conduct a pregame interview with the president, late today, the president sat down with fox's bill o'reilly, where the subject quickly turned to egypt. and though he has come close in
recent days, mr. obama is still not publicly calling for mr. mubarak to immediately step down. >> egypt is not going to go back to what it was. the egyptian people want freedom. they want free and fair elections. they want a representative government. they want a responsive government. and so what we've said is you have to start a transition now. mubarak's already decided he is not running for re-election again. his term is up this year. what we've said is let's make sure you get all the groups together in egypt, let the egyptian people make a determination, what's the process for an orderly transition, but one that is a meaningful transition and that leads to a government that's -- >> so you don't know when he is going to leave? >> well, you know, ultimately, the united states can't dictate what happens -- but what we can do, bill, is we can say that the time is now for you to start
making a change in that country. >> reporter: lester, the president stressed as the muslim brotherhood is brought into those negotiations they are just one faction there and a majority of the those in egypt do not support them. lester? >> mike viqueira at the white house. thanks. and on this super bowl sunday, disappointment for hundreds of fans who thought they had seats for the steelers/packers showdown. nbc's janet shamlian is outside cowboys stadium in arlington, texas. those couldn't have been pleasant moments today, janet. >> reporter: lester, imagine having a hard-to-get ticket to the game of the year, you walk up to cowboys' stadium tonight and you are handed this piece of paper that says, your seat is not available for tonight's game. that's exactly what happened to fans here tonight. in a week that has been plagued by problems for the super bowl, there would be one more. the snow and ice was gone and the skies sunny, but for some football fans, a shock beyond belief at the entrance to cowboys stadium. >> the tickets are no good.
the fire marshal apparently didn't approve them and we are stuck with them. >> reporter: ticket holders, some who had come from across the country and finally won the battle with the weather were told their tickets were no good. >> it is crazy. >> reporter: just hours before kickoff, as many as 1,250 fans were told their seats, which were temporary ones added for the big game, were deemed unsafe by the fire marshal because the work had not been finished on them. >> it is really not right it is unfair. we spent ape lot of money to come here. and told us our tickets were no good because had they didn't put the seats together? this is ludicrous. >> reporter: most fans paid $900 for them, some buying on the secondhand market shelled out thousands. >> i'm dumfounded, how can they, game day, realize the seats aren't safe? >> reporter: tonight, the nfl says only 400 fans will not be accommodated. they will receive $2,700 for each ticket, 850 fans got similar or better seats. the 400 fans who were paid off for their tickets are getting to
watch the super bowl tonight, but they are in a hospitality tent. they are getting to see the game it its just another glitch in a week that's been full of them here. lester, back to you. >> janet shamlian in arlington, texas, for us, thank you. we have got an update tonight on a story we have been following closely in recent days, mary thornberry, the american grandmother who lived near tahrir square in cairo and was forced to leave after it became unsafe there, well she is back in the u.s. tonight. thornberry was greeted by her son at new york's kennedy airport. she will have much more to say about her ordeal in an exclusive interview tomorrow morning on "today." and we are certainly happy to see that she made it home safely. we are going to take a quick break. when we come back here tonight, what was behind a deadly shooting at a college frat house? and tributes to ronald reagan by the former first lady and others 100 years after his birth.
the dramatic scene in arcadia, ohio, earlier today, after a freight train carrying ethenol derailed. at least 15 tanker cars caught fire and exploded. some of the fireballs could be seen 20 miles away. about 20 homes were evacuated. no injuries, though, were reported. also in ohio, earlier today, a shooting at a college fraternity house left one student dead and 11 people injured. six of them students. it happened in youngstown, ohio, near the campus of youngstown state university. police say a party was going on when the shooting took place. the dead student was 25 years old. police say the victims were shot by two men who were involved in a dispute at that party. they are trying to identify the shooters. a trial began today for
those three young american hikers arrested by iran 18 months ago and charged with spying. nbc's tehran bureau chief ali arouzi has been following today's proceedings. >> reporter: the trial of the three u.s. hikers finally got under way today after many delays. shane bauer and josh fattal were present at iran's revolutionary court but sarah shourd, released on bail, was not present. it appears she will be tried in absentia. today's proceedings were a closed-door proceeding and the authorities here imposed a blanket ban on all observers, which included the swiss ambassador who represents the american interests in iran. we do know that at today's trial, charges of espionage and illegally entering iran were read out against the three americans and pleas of not guilty were submitted by their lawyer. dwu ominous signs surrounding this trial come at time when anti-american rhetoric is at fever pitch as iran prepares to market anniversary of the 1979 islamic revolution. also, the judge presiding over the trials was the same judge
that presided over the mass trial of the protesters of the violently disputed 2009 elections here. he is a hardliner that has a reputation for handing down harsh sentences. the agonizing wait for the hikers and their families continues as we wait to hear from authorities in iran when the second session of this trial will commence. back to you, lester. >> nbc's ali arouzi in tehran. up next here tonight, a notorious ponzi scheme now with an alleged major league connection.
turns out the owners of the new york mets made a fortune investing through madoff and now are being asked to give up $300 million in profits. nbc's mike taibbi has the latest. >> reporter: with the new $600 million stadium and a payroll north of $130 million a year, the new york mets may not have won enough to satisfy their fans, but baseball has been very good to their owners. owners who said they were among the biggest losers in convicted fraudster bernie madoff's ponzi scheme. >> you don't like to lose money that is just stolen from you. but the betrayal is something i'll never, ever forget. >> reporter: but now the trustee representing madoff victims is suing the mets owners, corporate name sterling equities, calling them one of the largest beneficiaries of madoff's fraud, reaping hundreds of millions in fictitious profits over a quarter century while they willfully turned a blind eye to every warning sign and red flag of fraud.
in other words, that they did business with a crook and had to have known it. >> even if you don't know specifically, if there are signs that should have led you to know and you ignored them, then you are held liable. >> reporter: on day like today, the baseball season seems far away, but it is really only a month before pitchers and catchers report to spring training and the mets with one of the glamour franchises are already a tabloid mess. did the wilpon family benefit from the madoff fraud? will the owners have to pony up a billion to settle or just a strong-arm shake down by the trustee in the lawyer calls the lawsuit baseless, absurd, character assassination saying they would not have dealt for one minute with someone they thought might have been engaged in fraud. still you the mets are seeking a new partner to raise capital, if needed. >> i think if you ask most new york mets' fans and i have to say i count myself as one, the best scenario would be the wilpons making a graceful exit. >> reporter: as for the team on
the field, optimists point out the texas rangers spent last year going through bankruptcy and ended up in the world series. when the mets open their season on april 1st they will be tied for first place. mike taibbi, nbc news, new york. and when we come back here tonight, tributes to ronald reagan on his 100th birthday.
40th president was honored by those who loved him and worked closely with him. nbc's andrea mitchell who covered the reagan presidency, was there. ♪ happy birthday to you >> reporter: 100 years after his birth, more than two decades after he left office, seven years after his death, ronald reagan's legacy was celebrated at the presidential library where he is buried. it was nancy reagan's first public appearance in two years, laying a wreath at her husband's gravesite and speaking about this birthday. >> i know that ronnie would be thrilled and is thrilled to have all of you share in this 100th birthday. >> reporter: reagan was remembered for leading the nation at a time of crisis, not unlike today. >> gloom at home was matched by humiliation abroad. terrorists in tehran had held 55
american diplomats hostage. >> reporter: george schultz was reagan's secretary of state. >> if you want to be respected and strong, you have to deserve to be respected and be strong. >> reporter: for his centennial, the reagan library created new exhibits, including rooms dedicated to his historic meetings with mikhail gorbachev and his most famous foreign policy speech. >> mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. >> reporter: it was a line his diplomats didn't want him to deliver. >> in the limousine on the way to the wall, which he is told for a final time, you know, state department's not going to like this and the president said, yeah, well, i'm president. >> reporter: for the first time you can library is exhibiting the suit reagan wore when he was shot and nearly died, only two months after taking office. and a previously unknown audio recording of his farewell letter to the nation, when he revealed he was suffering from alzheimer's disease. >> i know that for america, there will always be a bright dawn ahead.
thank you, my friends. may god always bless you. >> reporter: but in the end, it was not his long farewell that makes ronald reagan live on. >> he restored our pride and confidence in ourselves. he made us feel good about ourselves. >> reporter: and years after his death, republican hopefuls and even the current democratic president are still studying how he did it. andrea mitchell, nbc news, simi valley, california. and that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. brian williams will be back tomorrow. i'm lester holt. our thanks to our entire team here in amman and back in cairo and for all of us here at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com